Advances in diagnosing and treating navicular diseases in horses.

The navicular bone is located in the lower heel of a horse just behind then coffin bone and the short pastern. (see figure 1) The navicular bone is prone to cause issues such as lameness in horses, navicular disease being one of these.

Figure 1 

Navicular disease is a progressive and degenerative condition involving the navicular bone.  (Navicular disease in horses: signs and treatment, 2001) Navicular is not classified as a disease in horses as it is just a series of abnormalities. Terms once used were “navicular syndrome” or “palmar foot pain” however due to advances in technology such as MRI scanning we now use the term to it as “navicular disease” to refer to changes in the navicular bone structure. The so called disease is stated to be one of the most common causes for severe can chronic lameness in horses. (Navicular Disease in Horses – Musculoskeletal System)

Diagnosing navicular disease can be quite tricky, but modern advances in technology have allowed it to be a little easier. MRI scanning allows us to look at soft tissue damage and fluid in addition to just the bone. Whereas in past times vets have had to take radiographs or which do not offer the insight of the soft tissues and supporting ligaments around the navicular bone itself. (The New Navicular Paradigm, 2016)

Since MRI scans have stared to be used they have shed a light on equine foot pathology and navicular dieses itself. If used correctly by an experienced MRI user then it can produce complex images and be used for a clear diagnostic; being able to tell specifically what is wrong with the horses foot/heel.(The New Navicular Paradigm, 2016)

We can see how technology advances had allowed us to be able to diagnose navicular disease in horses but now how have the industry advanced in ways of treating and preventing it?

In the past a horse owner’s wort nightmare would be to find out their horse had navicular disease; this is because there was no apparent cure and inevitably the horse would have an early retirement.  However, since MRI scans have been used vets and scientist could focus on specific areas and the root causes. In the summer of 2014 two new drugs were approved which would from then on help to combat and overcome navicular syndrome. (New options for navicular treatment, 2015) These two drugs are called Tildren and Osphos, they are both bisphosphonates and essentially work the same way and help with bone remodelling. (DVM, 2015)

Other advances in treating horses with navicular syndrome today can be rest, corrective shoeing, nerve blocks, and surgery. Shoeing Is a great way to treat it but must be done by an experienced farrier working closely with your vet.  Advances in remedial shoeing means farriers can fit “ egg bar”  shoes and/or pads which help to take weight of the heel and relieve tensions on the tendons. (Navicular Disease: Treatment and Prevention)

Prevention is always better than the cure. Preventing navicular disease isn’t too hard and could save a lot in the long run. All of these new treatments and diagnostics are effective and greatly appreciated in the industry however they come at a cost. Preventing navicular syndrome can be done by your horse receiving prober hoof care and shoeing and keeping an eye out for heat or swelling in the feet after strenuous work. Also keeping an eye of the hoofs for long toes, short heels or even uneven hoofs and getting this sorted and checked of if it occurs is good preventatives and shows good ownership too. (Navicular Disease: Treatment and Prevention)



DVM, K. M. (2015) Bisphosphonates and navicular syndrome in horses. [Online] [Accessed on 21st November 2017]

Navicular Disease in Horses – Musculoskeletal System (n.d.) Veterinary Manual. [Online] [Accessed on 21st November 2017]

Navicular disease in horses: signs and treatment (2001) Horse & Hound. [Online] [Accessed on 21st November 2017]

Navicular Disease: Treatment and Prevention (n.d.) [Online] [Accessed on 21st November 2017]

New options for navicular treatment (2015) The Horse Owner’s Resource. [Online] [Accessed on 21st November 2017]

The New Navicular Paradigm (2016) [Online] [Accessed on 21st November 2017]


Evaluation of blood metabolites reflects presence or absence of liver abscesses in beef cattle



(Alabama Beef Cattle Facts – Beef2Live, 2017)


Liver abscesses are a big concern at current time for the beef industry and its profitability. The abscesses contribute to bad health and performance of the cattle and can also be a threat to the beef market due to food safety; as some may go undetected during inspection. The chances and probability of cattle having liver abscesses and metabolic diseases is heightened in recent intensification of beef farming and some of the diets the cattle are put on. Where cattle are fed a diet with high-concentrate finishing rations with lower inclusion of roughage, it is calculated that between 12 and 32 percent of the cattle will have some form of metabolic disease or liver abscess. So far, the industry has lost hug amounts and apparently up to £30million annually in Canada.

It is quite hard to detect the liver abscesses before slaughter and attempts that have been done have always come back inconsistent.  Methods used to try and detect the abscesses before slaughter have been ones such as ultrasound and other diagnostic techniques. However as these are not proving accurate and giving inconsistent data there is defiantly a need for a new method. This method would need to detect the abscesses on the liver or any other metabolic diseases in a safe way for the cattle before slaughter. If such a method could be found then it would save the industry vast amount and would be able to draw up definite links to the liver abscesses and the way the cattle were fed, kept or even blood lines. This data and links would be able to be used to try and minimise the issue and maximise profit of the industry, along with animal health improvement.

Recent studies have suggested that

  • decrease in serum albumin
  • reduced blood testosterone
  • chronic active inflammation

are all connected and shown when liver abscesses are present. Using this information this study decided to look at bile and blood of cattle with suspected liver abscesses to pick up any correlation.


This study carried out an experiment using this information and monitored the blood and bile of cattle. They used twenty-nine beef cattle all within a specific weight and age range. They put all the cattle on a high- concentrate diet and collected blood at specific days but only stated 56 days before slaughter whereas the cattle were fed the diet 112 days before and this was the length of the experiment.


The experiment showed that after the trials  9 of the cattle had liver abscesses and that 20 didn’t. From the  blood results we could see that the 9 cattle with the liver abscess did have reduced testosterone, prolactin and even metabolic hormones such as cortisol and leptin.

We can now see that there is some form of correlation and although it  might not be a definite form of evidence it can still be used to try and  predict the outcome of  an abscess.



Reflecting on maths and chemistry

Both maths and chemistry play an important part in the fundamentals in bio veterinary science module. It is important to have the correct basic understanding of this before moving on to more complex subjects and using this as a foundation. Before into Uni and starting this module, I had not done much with maths or chemistry so this was already going to be a weak spot. I was doing an equine course for the previous two years and had not been using my skills in the subjects very much unless it came up in subjects such as equine nutrition. The last time using maths and chemistry regularly would be when I was doing my GCSE’s at school, too which I can’t particularly remember much of.

So far in this module I have tried my hardest to try and pick things up and understand how to do the maths calculations. I have asked questions where necessary; trying to gain as much information as I can to help me understand how to complete my work. Some of the maths has confused me and I haven’t really understood the questions or where to start. To help myself get around this problem I have come up with a solution in which I plan to read up and study the area more and try out some online questions once I know the principles of the workings out. Using the website (Helmenstine and Ph.D., n.d.) I can help myself to understand maths for the biosciences better and hopefully be in a better position for the lessons in the future as I will have the foundation to fall back too.  A book that I found useful  too and that linked specially to the lectures was  called “core maths for the biosciences” (Reed, n.d.) This book has good examples and is clearly laid out. It was recommended during a lecture and is available in the Writtle library. I have had a look in it and took it out on loan finding it very useful for my studies.

Chemistry has never been my strongest subject o and I always seem to find it very daunting first. I seem to struggle when it comes to different compounds and the molecular structure. I haven’t found the chemistry in this module too difficult yet and have managed to keep up and understand what I am being taught, however I would like to do some personal studies and research to gather a better and more broad understanding and feel secure in myself; so that when things start to progress further in the module I am ready to approach it and have enough knowledge to build from and back up what is being discussed. I have found and online website which takes things down to the basics and builds up from there. (LabSkills for A Level Chemistry | Curriculum-focused e-learning science activities & support for students & teachers, n.d.)  I plan to use this for the time being to get myself back up to scratch with my chemistry and to a comfortable level.



My targets for the next few weeks and during study week are to get myself up to scratch with my maths and chemistry using the resources listed above and other ones which may be found during my studies. I hope to find strategic ways of learning and getting myself to the level I wish to be at within the next month. After this time, I want to be able to be comfortable answering and understating the maths questions given during lectures. I also hope to be at a level with my chemistry in such a way that I can start  to answer questions in lectures and that I have full understanding  of the molecular structure of the compounds being spoken about and how different chemicals bond and join together.


Reference list


Helmenstine, A. M. and Ph.D. (n.d.) Practice Calculating Concentration of Ions in an Aqueous Solution. ThoughtCo. [Online] [Accessed on 10th October 2017]

LabSkills for A Level Chemistry | Curriculum-focused e-learning science activities & support for students & teachers (n.d.). [Online] [Accessed on 10th October 2017]

Reed, M. B. (n.d.) core maths for the biosciences.